Friday Goody Bag gets cranky — Enough with the hashtags already!

When you’re writing posts for LinkedIn, you may know that adding hashtags to your posts will allow them to be discovered by other people who are searching for these hashtags.

But for the love of all things great and holy, please don’t hashtag every other word in your paragraph! Recently I’ve read a lot of sentences that go something like this: “Today we celebrate #inclusion, #diversity, and #intersectionality as the #team from #ABCCorporation goes to #bat for #values!” When you turn a word into a hashtag, LinkedIn makes it a link, which turns it bold and blue. This makes the sentence hard to read because it becomes a mishmash of typographic styles. Even worse, by calling attention to themselves, the hashtags remind the reader that the post is promotional in nature. The net effect of all this is that you come across as deeply insincere. At least, that’s what this cranky person thinks!

As far as I know, you get the same “search” visibility if you put your hashtags underneath your deathless prose. It’ll make it a lot cleaner and easier to read (and then you won’t have to cramp your style by filling your post up with buzzwords, either). 

How do you say “Morten”?

This tip was recently shared by the inimitable Morten Rand-Hendriksen, online instructor extraordinaire. Using the LinkedIn Mobile App, you can record the pronunciation of your name – helping new acquaintances say your name correctly. The instructions are here!

Besides the obvious benefit of allowing our contacts to speak with us more easily, using this feature allows us to send a message of acceptance and inclusion with our profile. It says: “I’m willing to teach you my name,” which also implies “I’m willing to learn yours.” As Dale Carnegie wrote decades ago, people love to hear their names. Taking the time to learn someone’s name will lay the foundation for a good friendship or collegial relationship. Just ask my friend Anbalagan!

(I referred to Morten Rand-Hendriksen as inimitable, which means someone who cannot be imitated or duplicated. This word is often used as a somewhat flowery compliment to convey a lot of good will or appreciation. It’s appropriate for Morten, whose courses on LinkedIn Learning are easy to follow. However, because Morten has taken advantage of this feature on his profile, it is now possible to imitate him saying his name. So I guess he’s no longer inimitable.)

Turn off the most annoying LinkedIn notifications

Are you tired of getting LinkedIn notifications that someone you met at a conference 5 years ago is celebrating their birthday? You can probably figure out how to turn off these notifications, but you may not have prioritized actually spending the time. Trust me, it’s worth it. Here’s how:

  1. Click “Notifications” (top right-hand corner of your screen, next to the small gorgeous picture of “Me”… well, you)
  2. Find a birthday notification in the list, click the three dots to the right of it, and choose “Turn off… Stop receiving notifications like this.”
  3. You can also turn off other types of notifications.

Now when you see a red circle on your LinkedIn app, there’s a greater chance that it will actually mean something. And you will get MINUTES back in your life, a few at a time, each day.

P.S. I don’t share my own birthday on social media, but I love presents any time of year. Don’t you?

gordon-gekko-56798133, your LinkedIn profile needs a quick fix!

The “Careers” page of a local tech firm used to advise applicants that if their LinkedIn URL had a bunch of numbers at the end of it, they would not even be considered for a job there. (At least they told us).

Fifty percent of current Friday Goody Bag subscribers have this problem. Navigate to your own profile on LinkedIn and then look at the browser bar – does your page’s Website address have a bunch of numbers after your name? Here’s how to fix it (and look like one of the cool kids).

Click “Me” to navigate to (and edit) your LinkedIn profile.

Click “View Profile.”

Click “Edit public profile and URL” (towards the top right corner of your big, intimidating Profile page that shows how awesome you are).

Towards the top right-hand corner of your screen, you’ll see a box that says “Edit custom URL” at the top. Follow the instructions to get rid of the numbers.

If you have a common name and someone else of that name got there first, you may have to be creative – middle names, hyphens, etc. are all OK. Just make it look as if someone besides LinkedIn’s algorithm created your URL.

That’s it! Now your LinkedIn profile looks LIKE A BOSS.

How to look desperate on LinkedIn

We’re coming up on another holiday weekend, where workaholics and gig-a-holics everywhere are compulsively checking their LinkedIn feeds for any kind of professional update. Here are a few suggestions for surviving the weekend, if you’re tempted to over-indulge!

  • The best suggestion is simply don’t look at LinkedIn, and enjoy your time off. Turn off LinkedIn’s notifications on your phone and don’t read the posts. Trust me – LinkedIn turns into Facebook over holiday weekends; the only difference is that now you’re seeing pictures of your boss’s cat instead of your best friend’s.
  • If you do get drawn in, don’t publish posts yourself or engage with other people’s posts. You’ll look like a desperate workaholic who can’t get away from LinkedIn over the holiday weekend – and the only people who will see your brilliance are other desperate workaholics.
  • If you’re financially strapped, time over the holiday weekend is better spent planning out financial strategies, cleaning house, or going through your bank statements looking for hidden subscriptions to cancel – the holiday weekend is not a good time to snag jobs, gigs or side hustles.
  • Finally – if you want to look really desperate – share one or more of those rainbow-background quotes to your news feed. Seriously! Let’s make LinkedIn look totally like Facebook. Extra points if your quote makes you sound bitter or underemployed.

What to read instead

Even if you’re a grizzled veteran of your profession, reading blog articles can help you tune up your techniques and remind you of the things you’re already doing that are good. HubSpot’s sales blog is one of my favorite blogs – useful for sales professionals and everyone else alike! Here are three of the best posts:

  • Elevator Pitch Examples. How do you introduce yourself when a stranger asks: “What do you do?” The blog post also covers when NOT to deliver an elevator pitch.
  • Sales Script Examples. Cold calls and voicemails aren’t only for the lead gen team – sometimes we all need to make cold calls. The blog post provides tips and examples. Top takeaway: Always make sure you have a call to action in your sales call, meaning something easy you’ll ask the prospect to do (set an appointment, read an email you will send them, etc.)

Be smart(er) on LinkedIn

Describe yourself awesomely:

Does your “About” section read like a description of someone who’s looking for a new job? Why not make it about someone who’s passionate about your current job? In other words, instead of focusing on impressing an imaginary future employer, focus it our market! Read mine for ideas. Even if you don’t plan to stay in your current role forever, you’ll impress prospective employers with your customer focus.

Be a thought leader (or at least, a first follower)

“Liking” someone’s post is nice – but SHARING a post is AWESOME!!!!

I can’t say this enough. If you just “like” someone’s post, the only person who is notified is the person who posted it. That is so frustrating!!

To be vastly more effective, SHARE a post to your own feed. This does many amazing things for you and for your organization:

  • You pop up in the timeline of anyone you’re connected to
  • You increase your personal visibility
  • You inform your connections about the post you’re sharing
  • You increase your company’s visibility and brand
  • You increase the visibility of your colleague who created the post
  • Best of all, you look wicked smart!

Here’s how. It takes only a little bit longer than “liking” a post!

First, navigate to a post that you want to share. Here’s a shameless plug for one of mine: “Diversity and Sustainability are Not Separate Things”.

Second, click “Share.”

For extra points, make a quick comment and/or add hashtags for topics like #efficiency, #sustainability, etc.

That’s it! Rinse and repeat a few times each month or week to improve your social influence.

Authenticity and LinkedIn

If “authenticity” and “workplace” don’t seem to belong in the same paragraph, read on! Authenticity is a fancy word for “being yourself.” Of course when you’re in a professional setting you want to be the best VERSION of yourself, but this should never mean being fake.

In fact, authenticity is a big part of what we strive for in workplace culture – whatever your background or life experience, you should feel free to be authentic.

How does this apply to LinkedIn? You should always be cultivating your profile (not just when you’re looking for a job or trying to impress a prospective customer). But if the “About” section is full of business blah-speak, you’ll sound just like everyone else, a victim of a marketing consultant! (Hint: If the words “strategic” or “innovative” appear there, you might want to take another look.)

If you look at Scott Sternberg’s LinkedIn profile, you’ll notice that the “About” section starts with the following sentence: “Hello, my name is Scott Sternberg. Thank you for reading my profile.” Huh? That seems unnecessary. Busy executives reading LinkedIn profiles want to get right to the point, don’t they? Where’s the info about Scott’s strategy / expertise / executive experience? That comes later. Here’s a quick story about Scott.

In my previous role (marketing manager at Vaisala Inc.), I had arrived in Paris on the afternoon of November 13, 2015. I was there ahead of my team to set up for a trade show. That evening, terrorists killed more than 100 people in the attacks that centered on the Bataclan rock club. I was fine, but my family was worried about me. The rest of our team wasn’t due to arrive for 2 days. At 5 a.m. on Saturday, my cell phone rang – it was Scott, who had just been informed by one of my colleagues that I was on location where the “breaking news” was happening. Although he could easily have delegated the responsibility to HR or our travel team, Scott stayed up all night personally monitoring the situation and didn’t rest until he knew that I felt safe and understood what company resources were at my disposal.

So when I read “Hello, my name is Scott Sternberg. Thank you for reading my profile,” I heard Scott’s authentic voice. I’m sure that a “professional job coach” would have told him to begin his profile with some combination of keywords, but Scott values gratitude, and he cares about the person who’s reading the profile. He made a decision that being authentic is more important than sounding like a recruiter’s version of a CEO.

So when you’re writing your profile or posting things on LinkedIn, be professional, but be authentic. You’ll stand out from the crowd in ways you may not have imagined. 

Look smart(er) on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is an incredible platform for social selling. There are times to use it to sell (engage with other people’s posts, send messages or InMails, apply for jobs) – but in order to improve your results, you should have a decent profile photo.

You don’t have to look perfect – but you should not have a blank profile picture, use something that doesn’t crop well into a circle, or look like a slob. Also, you should probably not use a logo or anything that looks like a commercial message – LinkedIn is all about showcasing people.

What can you do if you don’t have a professional photo? (Do NOT pull out the latest Facebook picture of you at a wedding. I don’t care how great you look – cropping a party photo does NOT make a good headshot). Here are 3 things to try instead:

  • Get a professional photo. Make an appointment with J.C. Penney or your favorite local photo studio.
  • Next time you go to a trade show, make sure you look awesome. Odds are one of the exhibitors will be featuring free photos as a way to attract booth traffic, and you can take advantage of this to score a decent headshot for your LinkedIn profile.
  • Amazing B&W life hack – take a black and white portrait with your iPhone using the “Silvertone” filter.